The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took a first step today in addressing the harmful effects of pesticide drift — the toxic spray or vapor that travels from treated fields and into neighboring communities.
The move comes just three weeks after a coalition of farm worker, public health, and children’s advocates filed a petition asking the agency to set safety standards protecting children who grow up near farms from pesticide drift.
The agency took the first step in gaining the standards sought by petitioners — seeking public comment on the advocates’ petition. Today’s action also includes proposed instructions for pesticide applicators to limit the exposure of nearby communities to pesticides.
The following is a statement from Earthjustice attorney Janette Brimmer, who filed the October petition on behalf of farm worker groups United Farm Workers, Oregon-based Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO as well as Physicians for Social Responsibility, Washington-based Sea Mar Community Health Center, Pesticide Action Network, and the million-plus member MomRising.org:
“We’re heartened by today’s announcement. Children who live, go to school, or play near farms and orchards deserve to be kept safe from poisonous pesticides. Under the last administration, our petition for these protections might very easily have been consigned to a black hole. This new administration has instead committed itself to quickly bring this issue before the public — a welcome move in the right direction. We hope this momentum continues and that on-the-ground safety standards for children advance before another growing season begins.”
The EPA announcement and further information are available in dockets EPA–HQ–OPP–2009–0628 and EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0825 at http://www.regulations.gov.
A copy of the petition filed by advocates is available here: http://www.earthjustice.org/library/legal_docs/petition-pesticides-in-the-air-kids-at-risk.pdf
A fact sheet with background information on the issue of pesticide drift is available here: http://www.earthjustice.org/library/factsheets/pesticides_kid_factsheet.pdf
A fact sheet detailing the specific health risks linked to pesticide exposure is available here: http://www.panna.org/node/2392
A background piece on the science behind pesticide drift is available here: http://www.panna.org/drift/science